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Taking pen and paper into the digital age
Posted: 06-Apr-2000 [Source: Ericsson press release]

[Future Mobile users may be able communicate with hand written notes and scribbles through the use of "digital paper" technology.]

Stockholm -- Anoto, Ericsson and Time Manager today introduced the Anoto technology, which will enable consumers to use pen and paper as their interface when interacting with computers, mobile phones and the Internet. By always having a digital copy of whatever is written on paper, a multitude of possibilities are opened up. The Anoto technology is a combination of a proprietary pattern, advanced image processing, Bluetooth wireless technology and an information infrastructure. These features combined let consumers use pen and paper in conjunction with all the possibilities of the mobile digital world. By introducing this technology, Anoto hopes to create an open standard for digital paper and is now inviting other parties to develop products, applications and services around the technology. The first products will reach the market in the middle of next year.

Consumers can store their written scribbles, or send graphical e-mails and also electronically order products with just pen and paper. The time- consuming task of re-entering notes made on note-pads, into digital environment is past history. Consumers are no longer restricted to text- based SMS or e-mail, but can communicate hand written notes to anyone holding a mobile phone, PDA or PC. Companies can also use the technology to create customised and very powerful systems for data collection, document/goods tracking, journal keeping, etc. The Anoto technology consists of a piece of paper, the Anoto pen and a web server. On the paper, a proprietary pattern has been printed, in which any position can be expressed as X-Y coordinates, commands or services. The Anoto pen includes a digital camera, an advanced image processing unit and a Bluetooth radio transceiver. There is a camera and an infrared LED close to the point of the pen. When writing with an Anoto pen on a paper covered with the pattern, digital snapshots of the grid are taken and each snapshot contains information, which is enough to make an accurate calculation of the position. This information can be transmitted to a mobile phone, PC or PDA via Bluetooth wireless technology. The Anoto technology has been developed by Anoto, a subsidiary of C- Technologies, which is partly owned by Ericsson. Ericsson has provided its expertise in Bluetooth wireless technology and mobile telephones and Time Manager has developed the first paper product based on the Anoto pattern. . "Our goal is to create a standard for digital pen and paper. In our view this new technology might have a similar penetration to that of mobile phones in less than 5 years. The challenge is to create a partnership structure where everyone is a winner and the end-consumer is the biggest winner", says Christer Fahraeus, President and CEO Anoto "By 2004, there will be around 600 million mobile Internet subscribers, which means an enormous market for innovative products of this kind", says Jan Ahrenbring, Vice President Marketing and Communications at Ericsson Mobile Communications. "The possible usage of the Anoto technology is within many different areas, such as mobile e-commerce, messaging and personal information management", says Ahrenbring.

"We have only just started to apply this new technology, and in co- operation with Anoto and Ericsson we shall develop features that include pen and paper in the new mobile digital development", says Claus Mueller, founder and chairman of Time Manager International.


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